This month marks my business turned 1, so I want to share with you 8 lessons from my first year of business. The highs, the lows and the learnings in between.
That’s right, I made it to the 1 year mark, and I am so stoked that I made it. I feel like all business owners hear the stories of not many making it through the first year. Interestingly in Australia the stat is 14% of new businesses call it quits before hitting the 1 year mark.
This is much lower than the “70% of business fail in their first year” rumour that I heard when I first started my business. Perhaps this exaggerated stat was confused with another country like America or the UK?
Either way, us Aussies are a dedicated and hard-working bunch – and I am well aware of the new business rollercoaster. It has tested me constantly this year, on how much I want to run my own business. Have you felt the same? And every time you keep showing up to say, no this is what I want to do.
If you’re on this rollercoaster currently and are experiencing the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, keep holding on! After a year of the ups and downs, I still haven’t been able to get off of this crazy ride. Instead I’m crafting how those tracks are laid (a.k.a. creating the life I want to see).
This entrepreneur life will test your mental strength daily, so I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned in my first year of business and 8 lessons I’ve learned this year, kept me motivated and enjoying the process of running a business.
So here they are, the 8 lessons I’ve learned in my first year of business:
1. Location matters
Starting my business I thought working from home would be great. I could sleep-in, wear my pj’s for most of the day, eat when I wanted and make my own business hours. In my mind it was going to be super chilled and I’d pump out work effortlessly.
But after a couple of months of working from my bedroom and/or coach it became a nightmare. I rarely left my apartment, I barely moved or ate or drank anything (apart from coffee) – I was not in a good way.
My four walls started to get claustrophobic, yet at the same time my anxiety levels were increasing every day and I felt like I couldn’t leave my apartment. I felt stuck.
During this time, I told one of my best friends what was happening, and she suggested I should get out and work from a library, café or co-working space.
As I had very little money (#newbusinesslife), I looked up all the libraries in the Melbourne area, and discovered they not only was there a table I could work from, but free wifi too! – How was it I didn’t know about this before?
I’m not going to lie, it changed everything for me. My anxiety lessened because I was leaving the four walls of my apartment. I would walk to the library, which in turn increases dopamine and serotonin. By changing this habit I could see possibility for my business and was encouraged to work harder.
I now mix it up by working from many different libraries all over Melbourne, local cafes and next year I plan to invest in working from a co-working space.
These different environments allow me to be way more productive than working from home, because I have a space away from distractions
I mentioned before how my anxiety spiked when I started my business. Well, exercise has been my saviour.
Whenever my mental health has strayed away from the norm, I drop what I’m doing and go for a walk. If I am doubting myself, have a bad case of comparison, or if I’m not feeling creative, I put on my shoes and hit the path as soon as I feel those feelings.
I am not a runner by any means. I walk. I walk everywhere. I’m lucky enough to live near beaches, rivers and beautiful parks, so these are regular spots for me to being releasing my negative mindsets.
I have made it a habit to walk the long way to wherever I’m going, diverting to somewhere green or more calm to get my heart-rate up and bad energy out.
By taking the long way, I get a 30 minute walk in before I start working, have a meeting or catch up with friends. Which means when I arrive at my destination my thoughts are clear and I am able to be focussed and present.
It’s hits the reset button, and allows you to have a clear mind so you’re able to do your best in this day. All the hard tasks you’ve been stressing about suddenly seem possible and achievable.
3. Good Tunes
If you haven’t curated a motivational playlist for when you’re on your way to work or for while you’re working in a communal space, do it now.
Most days I am dancing and singing along to my different playlists. I have playlists for motivation, focusing or relaxing.
For example, if I need to concentrate on a critical task I’m going to wait until later to play my favourite music, because otherwise I’ll be singing all the lyrics and not focussing on the task at hand. Instead I need something with minimal lyrics and an upbeat tempo to keep me focused and motivated.
For me, the right type of music cheers me on to work harder and faster, than without music.
I also love turning up the tunes when I’m getting ready for the day. I’m not a morning person so a song with a good beat it gets me moving much faster in the morning. It’s also great when I go for a walk before starting work to speed up my steps and increase my heartbeat.
What tunes come to mind that get you moving, or focussed or pumped for the day ahead? Create a Spotify playlist and start creating a playlist for each part of your day to increase your productivity, and the good vibes.
If you want to start a new business, you will need some of this. Google defines grit as “courage and resolve. Strength of character”. While tenacity is described as “the quality or fact of being determined”.
To me it’s not being defeated when you’re hit with daily problems, issues or bad attitudes of the people around you. Instead never letting it effect you, getting resourceful and finding an answer or new way to fix the problem.
New business life is not all sunshine and rainbows (no matter how good it looks on Instagram). There are many days over this past year that I have questioned if I’m cut out for small business life, but I must have a good dose of grit and tenacity because I keep going regardless of the challenges.
Perhaps another definition for grit is being mentally strong enough to keep going no matter how hard it gets, and believing in your business idea when know one else does.
This last year has shook my confidence, finances and my approach to hard situations. And I’m not going to lie, if I didn’t have the tenacity or grit to push through those hard times, I would have packed up my (metaphorical) bags pretty early on.
It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s definitely going to be rewarding, humbling and teach you some lessons along the way.
5. Social Media
Just like networking, social media has been a great source of leads and sales for my business. But also like networking, the more you show up, the better the results you’ll get.
In contrast to this, social media has also been a source of much comparison and anxiety. And for that reason, I’d advise all business owners to put daily limits on your social media usage.
As I am writing this I haven’t posted on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest in 3 months. I have been stuck in a “who am I” paradox of not sure if I am being myself, my brand or what my customers want/need.
I believe every business owner will hit this point, and I think it is most likely information overload and searching to find clarity. – I’m in my first year of business after all. I feel like these moments are going to happen and I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself, right?
So if you find yourself in the same position, be kind to yourself. You’re just starting out and trying to find what works for you and your business. Don’t feel the need to be like anyone else. Authenticity is actually the best way to sell. Just show the real you.
I am setting boundaries for myself on social media. I plan to only post during work hours (Mon-Fri between 9am – 5pm) and during these times I will restrict how long I’ll engage with my community, and what times during the day (e.g. 20 mins at 9am, 1pm and 4pm etc.).
The other thing to keep in mind is consistency. Nothing grows you online marketing faster than being consistent. Post at the same time, on the same days, so your audience know when they can see your wonderful posts.
This old school technique is one I need to work on the most (#introvertanxiety), but surprisingly it’s been the one that’s gained me the most business.
I have found that when I network and meet people face-to-face I make sales easily verses email or social media.
I found many online and offline groups like Meetup, Business Chicks, LMBDW, and other paid female-based networking groups (my businesses target audience). Think about what networking groups would be supportive for you and your business? And have your target audience there so when it comes to tell them what you do, they’re super excited to heard about it.
The mantra I’m going to use for 2020 is “move towards what scares you”, so for 2020 I have decided to networking like a crazy person in order to attract more business, create new business networks, and take my business to the next-level.
When I started my business I thought this was crazy. Why would I turn clients away? I wanted to help as many small business owners as I could.
And then I got my first bad client, and the case for niching hit me like a smack in the face.
My hardest lesson was that I am not always going to be everyone’s cup-o-tea. The people pleaser inside of me took a long time to accept this, how could someone not see the hard work I was doing for their business not of value?
Instead of questioning your abilities like I did, look for clients who love your work. The ones who are super excited to work with you and share the same values as you do.
So from one business owner to another, please take note of the clients you enjoy working with. Understand what it is about these clients that make it enjoyable for you? And if there’s a common thread between these client experiences, make these lovely humans your new niche.
Niching is so important your business, so you don’t waste your precious time on those who doesn’t appreciate, or respect your hard work.
Damn this is a good one, it makes such a big impact on my day, outlook and vibes I put out into the world.
Daily I try to be grateful for my life, but there are definitely days I’ve forgotten to be grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, and my life seems dull and grey.
So, let’s get the ball rolling on gratitude. I am grateful for this beautiful country I live in, the opportunity to start my own business, for the resources I have to build it like a laptop, phone, notepad, wifi, Spotify, podcasts, coffee, libraries to work from, and my backpack (- so I can carry my life with me between my home and workspace).
If I’m in the afore mentioned anxiety spiral, gratitude makes me stop and laugh off all the crazy thoughts circulating my mind and allows me to realise that I’m actually doing better than I think I am.
If you have a roof over your head, food in your fridge and the ability to feel safe throughout the day than you have a lot to be grateful for.
I hope this blog post was able to help you if you, like me, struggled with your first year of business.
Share with me what your biggest takeaways from this post was? And what you’ll do this year to make it your best year yet?
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